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Must do better: Tony Blair's spelling
A trip back to school could be on the agenda for Prime Minister Tony Blair after he made a spelling mistake in an important letter.
Britain's busy leader was writing a letter to a prospective Labour MP when he spelled the word tomorrow wrongly, instead writing "toomorrow".
Even worse for Mr Blair, he spelled the word wrongly three times in the letter.
The Prime Minister's political opponents have used the mistake to make fun of Mr Blair, but his office in Downing Street said it might not have been a spelling mistake.
They said that it might have been Mr Blair's messy handwriting that was the problem, not his spelling. (from 2001)
How to pronounce "GHOTI"... and why
Did you ever wonder why we spell some words in English in ways which bear no resemblance to the way they are pronounced, for example:
laugh sigh sight
enough nigh night
rough thigh height
rough thigh height
cough sleigh light
Remember Bernard Shaw's word ghoti with the [gh] from "laugh", the [o] from "women" and the [ti] from "nation" and could be pronounced "fish"? Would you believe after that, that the distribution of the two pronunciations of [gh] in English is amazingly regular? See if you can figure out the rule. The [gh] was originally pronounced like the [ch] in Scottish loch "lake" or German lachen "laugh" (like you're clearing your throat). The preceding [u] represented lip-rounding (watch yourself pronounce the sound [u] in the mirror - what happens to your lips?) which was pronounced simultaneously with [gh]. When the [gh] disappeared because it was so softly pronounced, lip-rounding changed to lip-biting (check where your teeth are when you pronounce [v] or [f]. So [gh] ended up pronounced [f] because of the disappearance of a softly pronounced consonant and a shift of lip activity.
However, [gh] did not develop into [f] everywhere. To detect the word position in which it did, compare the following examples with those in (1) above. If you still aren't sure of the answer, click here.
bought sought caught daughter
fought ought taught slaughter
In fact, the original sound of [gh] in English was the same as the [ch] sound in Germanic languages from which Englis (German, Dutch, Flemish, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, and Norwegian) historically developed. Take a look at the following words from German, where the sound is usually represented by the letters [ch]. The sound goes back to an even older stage when it was pronounced [k]. To see this, compare the Germanic words in English with related words borrowed from Latin. The stems in the Latin words were originally the same stems in Indo-European as those in the Germanic words.
eight acht octopus [oktopus]
fight fechten infect [infekt]
right Recht rectify [rektify]
high hoch
By the way, the change of [k] to German [ch] followed the same Grimm's Law that gave us Germanic [f] from Indo-European [p] and [th] from [t].
The branch of linguistics dealing with sounds and sound changes is phonology. If you figured out the rules explaining the examples above, you might be interested in other aspects of how your brain and tongue are wired together - and how they are wired to the heads of ancestors going back to the Dnepr valley 5,000 years ago. Remember the magic word: LINGUISTICS. It doesn't mean speaking a lot of languages. And it may be the newest science.
Old English [gh] became [f] after [u] when it was at the end of words. There were exceptions, though: "through" (and related "thorough"), "borough," for example. However, this position is the only one where [gh] became [f] over the history of the language.
laugh sigh sight
enough nigh night
rough thigh height
tough high right
cough sleigh light
When [gh] occurred after [u] but NOT at the end of a word, it simply disappeared and is no longer pronounced.
bought sought caught daughter
fought ought taught slaughter


hop + ing

Check the root word.(hop) Ask yourself, "Does the root word have one syllable?" (yes) "Does it have one vowel?" (yes, o)
"Does it have one consonant at the end?" (yes, p)
Since you can see all these things, you must double the "p" before adding a suffix such as ed, er, est, or ing
(suffixes which begin with a vowel).

hop + ing = hopping
hop + er = hopper
hop + ed = hopped

cook + ing

Check the root word.(cook) "Does the word have one syllable?" (yes)
"Does it have one vowel?" (NO! It has oo.)
This is not a 1-1-1 word. Just add the suffix without doubling the last consonant.

cook + ing = cooking
cook + er = cooker
cook + ed = cooked

list + ed

Check the root word.(list) "Does it have one syllable?" (yes)
"Does it have one vowel?" (yes, i)
"Does it have one consonant at the end?" (NO! It has two, s and t)
"List" is not a 1-1-1 word. Do not double the last consonant before adding "ed" or "ing" as a suffix.

list + ed = listed
list + ing = listing

sad + ness

This is a tricky one.
"Does the root word have one syllable?" (yes)
"Does it have one vowel?" (yes, a)
"Does it have one consonant at the end?" (yes, d)
"Does the suffix begin with a vowel?" (NO!)
Do not use the 1-1-1 rule because "ness" does not begin with a vowel.

sad + ness = sadness
sad + ly = sadly

Rules for Irregular Plural Formation of Nouns


The majority of nouns in English spell their plural by simply adding a final -s. Nouns that are noncount or abstract (e.g., cheese, sugar, honesty, intelligence) generally take a singular verb, but in some instances can be plural, in which case they follow the rules for plural based on their spelling. Also, there are some categories of words which are only plural, even though their spelling does not reflect this. They are included in a list at the end of this page. For irregular count nouns and nouns that have been borrowed from other languages, the rules are as follows:

Variations of the final -s rule:

Nouns that end with -s, -z, -x, -sh, -ch
Add -es
glass/glasses, buzz/buzzes, box/boxes, bush/bushes, switch/switches

Nouns that end in -o

Add -es
potato/potatoes, echo/echoes, hero/heroes

exceptions: studio/studios, piano/pianos, kangaroo/kangaroos, zoo/zoos

either: buffalo/buffalo(e)s, cargo/cargo(e)s, motto/motto(e)s,


Nouns that end in a consonant + -y

Change -y to -i and add -es
baby/babies, spy/spies, poppy/poppies

Nouns that end in -f, or -fe

Change the -f to -v and add -es

shelf/shelves, wolf/wolves, knife/knives, wife/wives
Nouns adopted from other languages:
Singular ends in -is

Plural ends in -es
analysis/analyses, basis/bases

Singular ends in -um

Plural ends in -a
datum/data, curriculum/curricula

Singular ends in -on

Plural ends in -a
criterion/criteria, phenomenon/phenomena

Singular ends in -a

Plural ends in -ae
formula/formulae, antenna/antennae

Singular ends in -ex or -ix

Plural ends in -ices
appendix/appendices, index/indices

Singular ends in -us

Plural ends in -i
focus/foci, stimulus/stimuli

Singular ends in -us

Plural ends in -a
corpus/corpora, genus/genera

Singular ends in -eau

Plural ends in -eaux
bureau/bureaux, beau/beaux

Nouns that have only a plural form and so take a plural verb
Things that come in pairs

Tools: glasses, scissors, binoculars, forceps, tongs, tweezers
Clothes: jeans, pants, pajamas, shorts, trousers

Nouns that end in -s but have no singular (aggregate nouns)
accommodations, amends, archives, arms (weapons), bowels, intestines,
brains (intellect), clothes, communications, congratulations, contents,

stairs, thanks, goods

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs?

I cdnuol't blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed tihs psas it on !!